Cherry orchard plans staff accommodation

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
A Central Otago cherry farm has plans to build worker accommodation for its seasonal staff.

New Zealand Cherry Corp, based in Cromwell, has recently bought a neighbouring 244ha block of farmland.

The purchase doubles the size of the orchard, which harvests up to 800 tonnes of cherries annually.

Director Paul Croft confirmed it would build staff homes on 4ha.

While details have yet to be finalised it would probably include dorm-like rooms or camping facilities.

''Our pickers only come here for about six to eight weeks at a time. All they want is a bed effectively and some basic kitchen facilities.''

He also said the expansion would allow the firm to employ 200-300 more workers.

''At the minute we hire about 300 people for the season and we need to make sure that we can actually have a bed for someone who is working for us.''

It would be open to other businesses in the area to house their staff too.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the development was part of a growing trend in the area.

''I have noticed a far greater sense of responsibility for worker accommodation in the horticulture industry in the last couple of years.''

Mr Croft confirmed the company did need to apply for a resource consent but hoped it could get over the line.

Plans are also in place to build a 160-strong lifestyle block, but this required a plan change.

They would be set over 142ha in a rural setting - named Shannon Farm after the original farm's owners.

It includes 73ha of protected visible high country and is pitched as having historic significance.

The orchard will also expand and trees have already been planted in the new section.

The cherry block is the largest netted orchard in New Zealand which exports to 10 countries.

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